I consume therefore I am..?
Updated: Aug 18
“Cogito ergo sum” is a Latin philosophical proposition by René Descartes usually translated into English as, "I think, therefore I am". What Descartes wanted to say is that "we cannot doubt of our existence while we doubt.. " This proposition became a fundamental element of Western philosophy.
“I consume therefore I am” is a paraphrase of this philosophical proposition used by the advertising and marketing sector, implying that in order to proof your existence and entity as a person you have to be continuously consuming active. The more you shop, the more your uniqueness grows into an individual and significant person. With this rule marketers keep you attached in a continuously cycle of consuming products by creating you new needs or updating your existed ones.
Consumption need has been presented with various ways through books, movies and music. One popular movie addressed in this idea and the impact in society and person as an individual was the “Twelve Monkeys” released in 1995.
At some point of the movie there is a discussion between a mentally ill person (Brad Pitt) and a new-comer in the psychiatric facility (Bruce Willis). Brad Pitt at this scene has a monolog referring on how television and commercials have affected our lives. And why being an active consumer equals not being mentally ill (see the video below 2:13-3:02).
One year later, another movie dealt with the idea of consumption and it was not other than the English movie Trainspotting, released in 1996, where there is a speech called "Choose life".
The basic message of this speech is that in order to be accepted by the society as a respectable citizen you have to follow a certain pattern including a successful career, new car, big house and high tech consuming products (see the video below).
The idea that we regard possessions as extensions of ourselves has been well developed by Belk (1988), whose research indicates that the relationship established by an attachment to an object by its owner is an important source of identity.
But for me a great question is, "When possessions are lost, what happens to the self.?"
Do we need material possessions to identify ourselves.? And, can a person be adopted in the society if he rejects materialism.?
"It takes nothing to join the crowd. It takes everything to stand alone.." -Hans F Hansen
BONUS: the updated version of "Choose Life" from Trainspotting 2 (2017)
“Choose life Choose Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and hope that someone, somewhere cares Choose looking up old flames, wishing you’d done it all differently And choose watching history repeat itself Choose your future Choose reality TV, slut shaming, revenge porn Choose a zero hour contract, a two hour journey to work And choose the same for your kids, only worse, and smother the pain with an unknown dose of an unknown drug made in somebody’s kitchen And then… take a deep breath You’re an addict, so be addicted Just be addicted to something else Choose the ones you love Choose your future Choose life”